White StorkThe White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) is a well-known bird to us because it nests on chimneys or power posts.
We know, for a fact, that 100 pairs used to nest in the villages near Kopački rit like in Bilje, Vardarac, and Kopačevo. However, today fewer pairs nest here as in whole Europe. That is why the White Stork belongs to the endangered and protected species.
White storks are typical migratory birds. They spend their winter in the South African Republic, a lot more south from the equator. They arrive to their nests here in the second half of March. After nesting, they form flocks and migrate to the south by August 25th. At the beginning of August, you can often see flocks of White Storks in Kopački rit preparing for their long journey.
Black StorkBlack Storks (Ciconia nigra) feed in shallow ponds overgrown with plants. They capture their prey as they carefully walk in the water.
They feed on animals living in the water like frogs and different fish species. The hard parts of the fish’s' fins do not even disturb them. They have been caught hunting Prussian carps and Brown Bullheads whose spines can be very sharp. They swallow the frogs when still alive but the fish are turned with the beak and then eaten.
Purple HeronPurple Herons (Ardea purpurea) used to be the most numerous species in Kopački rit and in other wetlands not so long ago. Today they nest irregularly in only a couple of pairs at Mali Dunavac by Vardarac and Eblin. Even during migrations less Purple Herons can be seen. In the 19th century they used to nest in colonies up to 400 pairs.
The Purple Heron can stand still for hours in shallow water and wait for its prey. Uninformed observers consider this a waste of time so that is why the Purple Heron was named "danguba" which means, "loiter".
Ferruginous DuckThe Ferruginous Duck (Anas platyrchynchos) is the most numerous of all ducks in Kopački rit and nests in large colonies. The nests are regularly built on trees in spring when the water level is high. There were cases when the Ferruginous duck laid her eggs in a White-tailed eagles nest.
The number of these ducks rises to tens of thousands during autumn and winter. They move to the Danube or the Drava when the still waters freeze inside Kopački rit.
PheasantThe Pheasant (Phasianus colhicus) is an extremely colorful bird, especially in winter when the area is covered with snow. This species is not a migratory bird but stays here throughout the year. It most often feeds on seeds. During the day it hides from prowlers in tall grass, weeds, reeds or shrubs.
The Pheasant usually spends the night on a high branch in order to avoid contact with foxes. In winter it likes to sun bake in the snow.
Black-headed GullThe Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus) is a regular breeding bird on all fishponds in Slavonia and in Kopački rit. Tens or hundreds of pairs form a colony.
Sometimes they nest with the Whiskered Terns. The nest is made of aquatic plants built on the water. The brood consists of 3 colorful eggs. This white bird has a beautiful chocolate-colored head during breeding time. The breeding ritual is very complex and magnificent, even for a birdwatcher.
Black-headed Gulls often visit the Podunavlje fishponds. We know that most of these birds come from Hungary because of the ringed specimens that were found in the area. We also found Black-headed Gulls coming from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Finland and Russia. After breeding, the black heads become white, only a dark spot above the eyes and a black stripe at the tail and wing can be found.
Wild GooseWild Geese (Anser anser) are great flyers and the ones coming to Kopački rit nest in Sweden and Finland. They must constantly keep their feathers in good condition in order to keel over the long journeys. So they spend a lot of time cleaning these feathers even when standing still or resting.
Little Ringed PloverThe Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius) is the size of a sparrow and admires pebbly shores of rivers and streams. It feeds and breeds in Kopački rit. The plover usually has 4 colorful eggs that are difficult to notice between pebbles on the banks. They regularly appear in Kopački rit during the spring and autumn migrations. A few pairs were breeding in Kopački rit in 2002, which were also recorded with a camera.
CootCoots (Fulica atra) are numerous birds inhabiting the water areas of Kopački rit rich in vegetation like fishponds, armbands and other ponds. However, these birds have many enemies. In spring, many birds of prey like the Black Kite or the Marsh Harrier, prowl on their broods and steal the eggs from them and other marsh birds. That is why Coots have large broods containing more than ten eggs.
Imperial EagleThe Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) is a heath bird. It feeds on European Sousliks, other small mammals and birds. Today it also breeds in Hungary and Slovakia. They rarely and only occasionally appear in Kopački rit. When they do appear, they conflict with the White-tailed eagles.
White-tailed EagleKopački rit is a famous breeding place for White-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla). Eagles come from Slavonia, Serbia and one part of Hungary. We can often see ten to twenty specimens if there is enough food. These specimens are usually young that are sexually immature. If an adult eagle appears, the young know who is in charge.
The White-tailed eagles feed on meat; sometimes they eat injured birds or live their life as scavengers eating mallards, geese, wild boars, game intestines and marsh turtles. Fish also play a special role in their life. The eagles either eat them when they are injured or they prowl on the live fish in the shallow waters. Adult eagles can easily fly down from the sky to catch their prey at once while the young have to try a couple of times.
Grey HeronKopački rit is a paradise for different species of heron. All species that live throughout Europe also stay and breed here. The most numerous herons are the Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea). A large colony exists at “Ćošak šume” ("Forest corner"; name) counting more than a thousand pairs. They like to build their nests high up on the treetops. The young observe other animals and people passing by from a safe height.
LapwingThe Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) is a regular breeding bird in Baranja. It likes to breed and feed on wet pastures. In spring it also likes to settle on wet arable lands.
The Lapwing avoids the floodplain because the water regularly floods the broods. During migration, these birds gather in large flocks and settle on the fishponds or Kopačko Lake.
SpoonbillSpoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) are extremely beautiful white birds with bizarre spoon-shaped beaks. These birds are quite rare. In Croatia they breed in Krapje Đol by the Sava River and on some fishponds in Slavonia.
They fly over Kopački rit regularly and appear in this area in large numbers during summer, especially in August. Often hundreds of flocks can be seen. At one time a flock of 1000-1500 specimens was recorded at Kopačko Lake.